The enigma known only as Banksy officially re-entered the world of cannabis with a new permanent installation in a Toronto, Ontario-based dispensary. The unofficial king of guerrilla art—in the form of graffiti—left a breadcrumb trail of mystery throughout Europe and across the world through stark political messages and epigrams. But now, the vandal’s art can be appreciated by cannabis consumers who often share his political beliefs.
According to a recent press release, Tokyo Smoke brand announced its new cannabis retail store in Toronto, Ontario—as well as it’s permanent installation of an exclusive Banksy collection of art. The collection will feature “never-before-seen” works from the artist, as well as other notable pieces from other artists.
Store owner Rob Heydon provided selections from his personal art collection to add to the dispensary’s exhibition, including pieces by Kaws, Pure Evil, and Warhol. The company’s new location will organize cannabis products under a creatively different approach: Tokyo Smoke’s Intent system divides cannabis into five categories defined with objectives including “relaxing, resting, or having fun.” The store will feature education specialists who are prepared to guide consumers with informed cannabis choices.
“In these strange times, it felt fitting to allow customers to browse, shop and learn about cannabis while enjoying some art while waiting patiently as we practice social distancing,” Heydon said.
Per Heydon’s commitment to safety, the store will be armed with plexiglass dividers at the retail counter and reminders to observe social distancing. Tokyo Smoke, which is a subsidiary of Canopy Growth Corp., opened the new location on 21 Bloor St. E. and the property is wheelchair accessible.
Banksy’s art is especially appropriate to be displayed in a cannabis dispensary, given his long-held appreciation for the plant. Banky’s brilliant antics often involve cannabis in one way or another.
The artist appears to favor hash resin, a common item found in the U.K. and Europe. In 2003, for instance, the artist illegally hung his own art at the esteemed Tate Britain—formerly called the National Gallery of British Art—in an act he said was inspired by cannabis resin. His self-hung piece was entitled, “Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside For All of Us,” and was placed next to a 19th century landscape.
Like all of his public pieces, it carried a political message buried in dark humor. Each time a Banksy piece is spotted, the media loses their minds.
Banksy’s famous piece “Rage Flower Thrower” depicted a Black Bloc-looking protester throwing a bouquet of flowers instead of a Molotov cocktail. The Rage Flower Thrower, however, has been marketed as “Weed Thrower” on T-shirts and other merchandise on Ebay.
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The artist is best known for “Girl With Balloon,” a stenciled graffiti painting in East London. In 2018, a “Girl With Balloon” print was auctioned off in London at Sotheby’s for £1.042 million—only to self-destruct moments later. It was one of the latest of Banksy’s antics that once again shocked the world.
What is known is that Banksy was probably born around 1974 in Bristol, England.
The identity of Banksy—which officially remains elusive—could be linked to Robert Banks and Robin Gunningham, both Bristolians.
A team of mathematicians, writing in the Journal of Spatial Science, claimed to have identified Robin Gunningham as the true identity, although they admitted that their results were not entirely conclusive. Others have also claimed that Banksy is actually 3D, the frontman of the trip hop band Massive Attack. Given the number of theories, Banksy’s identity remains a mystery.
Many years ago in the 1990s, Banksy joined a graffiti crew in Bristol called DryBreadZ Crew, often using stencils to portray political messages of social reform.
Banksy was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2010 documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop, a feat that is credited with propelling graffiti art. Increasing prices and value placed on graffiti-related art has been dubbed “the Banksy effect.”
Tokyo Smoke’s new location in Toronto will provide consumers with an elevated experience featuring the work of Banksy and others. It’s a fine way to introduce the cannabis community to street art from England’s top vandal.